The ADDIE Learning Design Process for Instructional Designers

23 June

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The ADDIE Learning Design Process for Instructional Designers

In a typical eLearning project, it’s common to encounter a range of activities such as instructional design storyboard, scriptwriting, video production. But what are the stages to create and develop a digital learning project? Who’s involved in each stage and what are the main outputs?

Let’s break down these typical stages in the eLearning project to help you explore each of them in-depth – based on one of the core instructional design models, the ADDIE instructional design model.

Before we start, let’s make an important distinction between graphic design and instructional design. While graphic design relates to the look and feel of the online course, instructional design relates to the flow and experience of the resource that helps someone learn the content.

Learn more about the ADDIE process with our Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design

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What is the ADDIE instructional design model?

While there are a number of instructional design models and processes, many of their components are similar. ADDIE is an acronym that stands for

  • Analysis

  • Design

  • Development

  • Implementation

  • Evaluation

The ADDIE process is a widely used instructional design model that provides a systematic approach to creating effective and efficient learning experiences. The ADDIE model of instructional design guides the development of instructional materials and courses, helping instructional designers, trainers, and educators create high-quality learning solutions.

In recent years, there has been a push to utilize more agile, iterative approaches, including Michael Allen’s Successive Approximation Model (SAM). Agile models, such as SAM involve shorter design sprints where a prototype is quickly created, reviewed, and revised, with the process repeating until stakeholders are satisfied.

What are the 5 steps of the ADDIE model?


The analysis phase is where we dive into WHAT the learners’ needs are.

During the analysis stage, the designer identifies the learning problem, the goals and objectives, the audience’s needs, existing knowledge, and any other relevant characteristics. The analysis stage also considers the learning environment, any constraints, the delivery options, and the timeline for the project.

These are suggestions of the questions your project group should be addressed during the analysis phase of the ADDIE training model: 

  • What is the purpose of the instructional design project?

  • What are the desired outcomes and goals?

  • What is the business problem you are trying to solve?

  • What are the stakeholders’ expectations and requirements?

  • Who is the target audience for the instruction?

  • What are their characteristics, prior knowledge, and learning preferences?

  • What are the specific knowledge, skills, or behaviours that learners need to acquire or improve upon?

  • What are the existing resources, materials, or content that can be leveraged for the instructional design?

  • Are there any constraints or limitations in terms of time, budget, or technology?

  • What are the environmental factors that may affect the instructional design, such as physical space, equipment, or available technology?

  • Are there any specific organizational or industry standards that need to be considered?

  • What assessment methods or tools can be used to measure the learners’ achievement of the desired outcomes?

  • How will the assessment align with the instructional objectives?

  • Are there any legal, ethical, or cultural considerations that need to be addressed in the instructional design?

  • What are the potential risks or challenges that may arise during the implementation of the instructional design?

  • How can any of the above risks be mitigated or overcome?

  • How will the success of the instructional design be evaluated?

  • What data or feedback will be collected to assess the effectiveness of the instruction?

  • Who is our audience and what are their learning needs?

  • What are the profile and preferences of this audience?

  • What is the content that we need to cover and how will it be broken down?

  • What accessibility considerations are evident at this stage? 

Typically the outputs from this phase will be a training specification or curriculum which will spell out the who (the audience), the why (the learning outcomes) and the what (the content covered) of a learning programme.


In the design phase, your team should start to focus on HOW the programme will be delivered.

A plan for developing instruction is formed which leads to a systematic process of specifying learning objectives. Detailed storyboards and prototypes are often made, and the look and feel, graphic design, user interface and content is determined here.

These questions are worth asking your project team during the design phase of the ADDIE process’

  • What does the digital learning experience look like?

  • What will be the sequence and flow of topics or modules?

  • What type of digital learning resource do we need to build?

  • How will we design each of these resources to make them engaging and impactful?

  • What are the specific learning objectives that need to be achieved?

  • What knowledge, skills, or behaviours should learners be able to demonstrate upon completion?

  • What instructional strategies or methods will be most effective in achieving the learning objectives?

  • How will they align with the needs and preferences of the target audience?

  • How will the content be organized and structured to facilitate learning?

  • What will be the logical sequence and hierarchy of the topics or modules?

  • What are the appropriate instructional materials and resources needed to support the learning process?

  • How will they be selected and integrated into the instructional design?

  • How will the instructional materials or course be aligned with any relevant standards, guidelines, or curriculum requirements?

  • What technology or tools will be utilized to enhance the instructional design?

  • How will they be integrated to support learning?

  • What assessments or evaluations will be included to measure learners’ achievement of the learning objectives?

  • How will they provide meaningful feedback and support the learning process?

  • What strategies will be employed to engage and motivate learners throughout the instruction?

  • How will learners’ prior knowledge and experiences be taken into account?

  • What strategies will be used to facilitate effective learner interaction, collaboration, and communication?

  • How will learners engage with each other and with the instructor or facilitator?

  • How will the instructional design be flexible and adaptable to accommodate diverse learners and different learning contexts?

  • What considerations will be given to accessibility, cultural sensitivity, and inclusivity?

The result from this design stage will typically be a series of storyboards that map out the flow of a digital learning experience.


The development phase is where the design storyboards are brought to life using content-authoring tools and software to build learning resources. The actual creation (production) of the instructional activities, content and learning materials based on the Design phase.

There are a number of steps in this phase and it can include things like prototyping, video production, audio production and user testing, as this is normally the most time-consuming part of the digital learning design process.

Consider these questions during the development stage of the ADDIE model instructional design.

  • How will the content be organized and structured to facilitate effective learning?

  • What will be the sequence and flow of topics or modules?

  • What instructional strategies, methods, or techniques will be employed to engage learners and promote effective learning?

  • What types of multimedia elements, such as videos, images, or interactive simulations, will enhance the instructional materials?

  • How will they be integrated into the content?

  • What learning activities or exercises will be included to provide hands-on practice and reinforce learning?

  • What are the appropriate formats for delivering the instruction?

  • Will it be primarily text-based, video-based, or a combination of different media?

  • How will the instructional materials or course content be adapted to cater to different learning styles, preferences, and accessibility needs of the learners?

  • How will feedback and assessments be incorporated into the instructional materials to monitor learner progress and provide guidance for improvement?

  • What are the appropriate levels of complexity and difficulty for the instructional materials?

  • How will they be scaffolded or differentiated to accommodate learners at various skill levels?

  • What instructional resources or references will be provided to support learners’ further exploration and self-directed learning?

  • How will the instructional materials or course content be reviewed and revised to ensure accuracy, clarity, and alignment with the learning objectives?


The next phase is implementation, which means how the digital learning course will be rolled out. This is generally an overlooked phase that should be planned from the analysis stage.

During implementation, the plan is put into action and a procedure for training the learner and teacher is developed. Materials are delivered or distributed to the student group. After delivery, the effectiveness of the training materials is evaluated.

A few topics worth exploring in the implementation stage of the ADDIE learning model are:

  • How are we going to roll it out?

  • How are we going to promote and market our courses? 

  • How are we going to drive engagement?

  • How will we support learners during the course?

  • How will we monitor their experience and engagement?

  • How will the instructional materials or course be delivered to the learners?

  • Will it be in-person, online, blended, or through a specific learning management system (LMS)?

  • What strategies or techniques will be used to engage learners and create a conducive learning environment?

  • How will the instructional materials be organized and presented to optimize learners’ understanding and retention of the content?

  • What instructions or guidance will be provided to learners to ensure they know how to navigate and interact with the instructional materials or course?

  • How will learner progress and performance be monitored and tracked during the implementation?

  • What mechanisms or tools will be used for assessment and feedback?

  • What support mechanisms will be in place to assist learners during their learning journey?

  • How will learners access help or ask questions?

  • How will the instructional materials or course adapt to learners’ needs, pace, and level of understanding?

  • What personalized or differentiated learning strategies will be employed?

  • How will learner engagement and participation be encouraged and fostered?

  • What interactive elements, discussions, or activities will be integrated into the instruction?

  • What strategies will be used to facilitate learner reflection and application of the learned concepts or skills?

  • How will learners connect the instruction to real-life situations?

  • What mechanisms will be in place to collect feedback from learners and instructors to continuously improve the instructional design and implementation?


The evaluation phase sits in the middle of the ADDIE model as it’s necessary to keep evaluating your decisions all the time as you go through the process.

This phase consists of (1) formative and (2) summative evaluation. Formative evaluation is present in each stage of the ADDIE process. Summative evaluation provides opportunities for feedback from the users. Revisions are made as necessary.

Here’s a guideline on what should be evaluated at each stage:

Analyse stage 

  • Did the learning objectives meet the business need?

  • Did the instructional design achieve the desired learning objectives?

  • Evaluate the engagement, experience and whether learning transfer has been achieved.

  • How well did the learners demonstrate the expected knowledge, skills, or behaviours?

  • Did it meet organizational or industry standards?

  • What changes or adjustments should be made to improve the instructional design in future iterations?

Design stage

  • How effective were the instructional strategies and methods employed in facilitating learning?

  • Did they engage and motivate the learners?

  • Did they find the content relevant and valuable?

  • What were the strengths and weaknesses of the instructional design?

  • What aspects worked well and should be retained, and what areas need improvement?

  • Were the assessments and evaluations appropriately aligned with the learning objectives?

  • Did they provide accurate and meaningful feedback to the learners?

  • How did the instructional design align with the expectations and requirements of the stakeholders?

Development stage

  • Evaluate whether the resources match the storyboard.

  • How did the learners perceive the instructional materials or course?

  • Did they find them easy to navigate, understand, and use?

  • Did the instructional materials or course content meet the needs and preferences of the learners?

Implementation stage

  • What were the learners’ overall satisfaction and engagement levels with the instruction?

  • Did they feel supported and encouraged throughout the learning process?

  • What were the challenges or barriers encountered during the implementation of the instructional design?

  • How can they be addressed or overcome in future iterations?

The ADDIE model is iterative, meaning that it allows for feedback and revisions throughout the process. Designers can revisit previous phases based on evaluation results and make necessary adjustments to enhance the instructional design. This model provides a systematic and flexible framework for creating effective learning experiences.

We hope this overview of the Digital Learning Design process has been useful to you.

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